In thirty-five years of existence, the Ghibli studio has given acclaim to Japanese animation and given birth to a myriad of imperishable masterpieces. Under the artistic tutelage of two geniuses, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, his fables and his creatures have gained worldwide popularity, to the point of integrating popular culture, such as the famous Totoro (My neighbor Totoro, 1988), a paunchy chimera that has become the emblem of society. Since 1er February and until 1er April, this very first choice collection arrives on Netflix, at the rate of twenty-one titles divided into three monthly bursts. We will find the great house classics, such as The castle in the Sky (1986) or Spirited away (2001), or rarer pearls which are well worth the detour. A quick overview in three hidden treasures.
- “Drip memories” (1991), by Isao Takahata (1 h 58)
After the heartbreaking Tomb of the fireflies (1988), Isao Takahata perseveres in his own intimate vein and here delivers a magnificent variation on the different ages of life. Taeko, an office worker in Tokyo, joins her brother-in-law's farm for her vacation where she takes part in the seasonal harvest of safflower. His stay is punctuated by the bursts of memories that come back to him from his childhood, this age of promises where everything was still possible. Through this delicate pendulum movement, the film paints a psychic portrait of her heroine and questions the formation of her character. Each burst of memory makes you feel the passage of time and its irreversible traps. What Takahata describes above all is an ethical journey from the city to the countryside and frugality. Thin line, pastel colors and pointillist montage very sensitively distinguish this inner journey to emotion.
- “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984), by Hayao Miyazaki (1 h 56)
Created before the creation of the Ghibli studio, Nausicaä is nonetheless a milestone for Miyazaki, who signs a first personal film there, adapted from a manga of his own. In a devastated future, the Earth is invaded by a lush nature, which has become toxic to humans folded up into small communities. Nausicaä, a young villager, is brought to play the mediators between two worlds, that of the giant insects, whose language she speaks, and a bellicose troop which seeks to destroy them. This sumptuous ecological fable, technically impressive (for the time), contains in germ all the cinema of the master: epic sense, poetry of the moment, plastic virtuosity, taste for flying machines, multifaceted bestiary (including “ômus”, large woodlice with red eyes). Nausicaä is the first of a line of Miyazakian heroines, who have deep contact with the living.
- “Si tu tenses l'ore” (1995), by Yoshifumi Kondo (1 h 51)
The one and only film by Yoshifumi Kondo, slated to take over from Miyazaki, but died at the age of 47 of an aneurysm rupture, is a real gem. Shizuku, a schoolgirl in the suburbs of Tokyo, meets an apprentice luthier of her age, with whom she falls in love, and sometimes escapes into an imaginary world. A seismograph study of adolescent sentiment, the film finds its poetry on the surface of things, in the recesses of everyday life. The heroine's wanderings, impressions, encounters and daydreams create so many simple moments swollen with emotion. With a realistic bias, the animation precisely reproduces the body language and the expressions of the beings, and yields only sparingly to the marvelous. This orphan work, of infinite delicacy, is to be discovered urgently. An indirect follow-up will be given in 2002 with The kingdom of cats, by Hiroyuki Morita.